The Houston Astros are currently trying to lock up their fourth division title in five years. With a date with the Chicago White Sox almost guaranteed in the Division Series, the Astros will have a different look in the bullpen this postseason, which would include a future Hall of Fame pitcher in Zack Greinke.
A New Role
With Greinke going back on the 10-day injured list last week with neck soreness, his role within the Astros rotation is in question. Since coming back from his first stint on the 10-day COVID injured list, Greinke has struggled in his last two outings. Going a total of nine innings combined in those two outings, Greinke needs to get back on track for the postseason.
With that, Greinke will be looking to get back on track when he begins his MLB rehab assignment for Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters on Thursday. Depending on how well this rehab assignment goes, the Astros will slot Greinke into a new role in the bullpen. With the postseason set to start next week and the Triple-A postseason concluding this weekend, the time needed for Greinke to get an extra start is minimal.
According to Astros manager Dusty Baker, the possibility of using Greinke out of the bullpen is a “very distinct possibility.” The last time Greinke made a relief appearance was in 2007 while with the Kansas City Royals. This new role is something that Greinke is open to as long as it helps the team win. Greinke was quoted in an interview last week with Astros beat writer Brian McTaggart, “Whatever they ask of me will be the goal. I’ll do whatever I can to be ready to do that—our team’s good. We’ll do our best to go as far as we can. That’s just the goal, is do everything that I can and hopefully win games.”
Although the postseason rotation is still to be determined, Lance McCullers Jr, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy will likely be the starting pitchers going into the Division Series against the White Sox. There is also the possibility that Baker could use a piggyback system with Greinke and Cristian Javier. With the postseason, “you want as many veterans as possible who have been there,” Baker said to McTaggart.
The Astros are on the brink of their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason. For the Astros, if they want to make it back to the World Series, pitching will be essential, and they will need all hands on deck.
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